The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Children's Fund UNICEF recommend that mothers should breastfeed their babies exclusively during the first six months because breast milk contains certain substances that will strengthen the infant's immune system.
What makes breast milk so healthy?
Breast milk is unique because it covers not only the baby's basic nutritional needs but also has lots of vitamins, minerals, antibodies and protective bacteria. Furthermore, it contains an enormous number of immune cells that protect the baby against illness and thus provide exactly what is needed for healthy development. The first milk that trickles from the breast right after the birth already contains many defensive substances.
Children who have been breastfed are less susceptible to gastro-intestinal diseases, respiratory tract infections and allergies. Even if only one parent suffers from an allergy, neurodermatitis or asthma, the baby will be more susceptible to the disorder. Breastfeeding is therefore all the more important because it provides babies with essential antibodies and immune cells right from the start.
Other advantages of breastfeeding
Breastfed children are not only less susceptible to allergies, they also have a lower risk of becoming overweight, suffering from middle ear infections, getting cancer, or dying from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Furthermore, breast milk adjusts itself to the changing requirements of the growing child and always provides the right amount of proteins, fats, immune cells and messenger materials. Finally, breastfeeding involves more than delivering the necessary nutrition because the baby can also experience the love, closeness and warmth of the mother.